Lost and Found (Guilin & Shanghai, China)

Week 7 of Post Grad Life. 

Around the world in 80 days. Once I land in LAX, I will have gone around the world in 80 days. Atlas, one of my childhood dreams has come true!

It has been literally almost 80 days since the last time I was there. Since then, I have been to San Diego, Indianapolis, West Lafayette, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Chicago, Knoxville and NYC, USA; Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa; Hong Kong; Seoul, Korea; Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guilin and Yangshuo, China. Then, next week I am off to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico with my boyfriend. I am so excited!

As exciting as it is that I will have checked off a longed dream of mine, this week has been pretty emotionally draining. The beginning of the week, I was such a happy camper being lost in Yanghuo (Guilin), China. At this point of the week though, I am just sick and tired of the life I am living and just want to be home.


Being Happy in Guilin:

So Guilin in short was probably one of the most spiritually awarding trips of my life. I went there on my own and stayed at an English school that hosted me in exchange for a couple hours English lessons. Simple and actually a lot of fun. For the majority of the day, I was waking up early to watch the sunrise over the gorgeous mountain formations and biking around town, getting myself lost in all sorts of direction and finding my way again. I was being the true definition of a free spirit while I was there. I had nothing to worry about and was emptying my mind about some shit I caused last week.

This is probably the crappiest sunrise from Guilin... the other ones were AMAZING, but all my best photos are gone :(
This is probably the crappiest sunrise from Guilin… the other ones were AMAZING, but all my best photos are gone :(
Rock climbing outdoors for the first time in my life!
Rock climbing outdoors for the first time in my life!
Just another day in Yangshuo, China
Just another day in Yangshuo, China
Moon Hill in Yangshuo
Moon Hill in Yangshuo
Biking in Yangusho
Biking with my new friends in Yangusho

I was finally FULLY happy for the first time in a long time… In a really really long time. And of course, all good things must come to an end. Long story short, on the last day when I was trying to get back to the airport, I lost my iPhone and thought that I was getting kidnapped. Worst day of my young-lived life… this was worse than the time that I was in Kiev during the revolution back in December.


The Worst Experience of My Life:

So basically, I messaged my boyfriend when I was on my way to ride a boat from some remote town to another remote town… After I messaged him, I put my phone on airplane mode to preserve battery and data. Well, when I got off the golf cart that lead me to the boat, I realized that my phone was not in my hand. It must have fallen out of my pocket and fell onto the road or something. Well, I was SO upset and angry at myself for being so stupid, not because of the phone, but more so because of all the gorgeous photos I took that day that I did not upload onto iCloud. I literally had some of the most incredible photos of the sunrise and remote areas I went to while I was biking around.

One of the only few pics I have taken from my iPad
One of the only few pics I have taken from my iPad

What was worse was the idea of someone having access to over 1000 photos that I had on my phone, since I did not have a password on there. So if anyone has my phone, they’ll be going through all my private stuff right now. This is literally the third time that I will have lost all my photos in four months because of my iPhone. I just really hope that some fob doesn’t abuse the photos that are on there.

Well anyways, the boat ride was fucking incredible. The only thing was that I just could not enjoy it because of how upset I was at myself. I don’t EVER lose anything that important, but I think my mind was too focused on something else that I didn’t remember to put my phone in my bag, instead of my pocket. Anyways, that was probably two hours of me hating myself for being so stupid.

One of the most spectacular views I've ever had in my life
One of the most spectacular views I’ve ever had in my life
I wish I could've actually enjoyed this... my mind was still flustered by the fact that I lost my phone
I wish I could’ve actually enjoyed this… my mind was still flustered by the fact that I lost my phone
One of the only good photos that the boat driver took...
One of the only good photos that the boat driver took…

The boat ride was just me and the driver. Soon enough, the sun had set. It was getting darker by the minute and the next two hours was probably the scariest shit I’ve ever had to go through in my life. When we got off the boat/raft, the driver was talking to me in a fob language. It wasn’t even mandarin (not that I understand mandarin) and we were definitely NOT in Guilin. All I remember was that we were pretty far out from the entrance of the river so he told me to get on his scooter, so I figured he was just taking me to the entrance. Well, he did and then he said some fob shit and mentioned Guilin. So then I started doing hand interpretations and pointed at large vans as if to say that I want to go to the bus station to go to Guilin… Then the guy tried to rip me off by giving me a ridiculous price to take me to the bus station. I started to walk away, hoping that I’ll just walk there.

Well… he came back and agreed to a better price, so stupid me got back on his scooter… I thought this would have been just a short 10-15 min ride to the station. It was rather nice because the sun was set so I was just enjoying the countryside and the dark outlines of the mountains around us. Well… this ride went on for maybe over 40 minutes. I thought I was going to die.

We were swerving around in the countryside on this one long road with no other cars on either side of the road. I was on the back of the scooter with this old Chinese man, who has, since the start of the boat ride, been trying to rip me off at every stop along the way. I did not trust him whatsoever. It was pitch dark and we were going at full speed. I couldn’t see anything but the back of his helmet. I thought I was going to die.

At one point, he stopped his bike as I saw a remote dirt road on the side. My heart, too, had stopped. I thought I was going to die.

My heart started beating again, but at like 100 mph, because I truly thought that I was going to get beat, raped and sold to sex slavery. I thought I was going to die.

Well… he stopped because he had bugs in his eyes. He kept driving again though for another ten minutes. It was still pitch dark with no other cars on the road, until we stopped again at the fork of the road. There, I saw a huge sign that read Yangshuo 23 km to the left and Guilin 46 km to the right. He stopped the engine and then sort of waved his hands on the road as if to stop the cars passing by. I sort of did a triple-take before I realized that he wasn’t taking me to a bus stop, but a traffic road where I could hitch hike a ride to Guilin. WTF.

This road was no better than the one we were on earlier. There was still nothing-ness all around us, pitch dark with just a small little corner shop behind us. We waited and waited until he decided he wanted to go home. I was alone now, with no phone, no flashlight, no food, no Google translator…

I think I stood there for a good half hour by myself before some car stopped and asked for 200 rmb ($32). I almost said yes, when I saw a bus stopping for me. OMG! I ran for my life to catch up to where the bus had stopped and only had to pay 10 rmb ($1.50) to get a ride to Guilin. THANK GOD.

Even when we got to the bus terminal however, I ended up taking a non-cab to the airport. None of the actual cab drivers wanted to take me to the airport, so I pretty much hitched another ride. I shortly fell asleep in the cab, which was (now that I think about it), a bad idea because I wouldn’t have known where he took me if he wasn’t taking me to the airport.

Anyways, I ended up getting to the airport safe and sound, but got there about 5 hours earlier than when my flight was going to take off. I was so emotionally and physically drained though that I just wanted to be at a safe place where no one can harm me or try to rip me off.

This was the best and the worst trip I have ever had in my life. I think that last night in Guilin scared the travel bug out of me that I officially retire from traveling alone.

I did come to one happy realization from this experience, however. My boyfriend M is my sanity. Sure, I am still confused whether or not he is the one true love I am supposed to be with in the long-term, but I realized from this experience how much I am emotionally dependent on him. I talk to him so much on a daily basis that I don’t know what else I would do without him. I want to tell him almost every part of my life and he really knows how to listen. He is simply and absolutely incredible…

The rest of the week was going to startup events in Shanghai. I did a lot of networking and really tried to establish some sort of base here. I don’t know if or when I will come back to Shanghai, but I wanted to give it my all to get some stuff done while I was still here.

Anyways, now I am back at the airport, yet again. I am heading off to LAX to see my boyfriend. I am exhausted, but beyond relieved and excited.

xoxo from Shanghai,